#AkageraNationalPark news updates


(Posted 28th January 2023)


Akagera Highlights 2022
© Drew Bantlin
Hello  friends,
We are pleased to share Akagera’s 2022 highlights with you. Key highlights from 2022 include:
  • Akagera had record-breaking tourism revenue in 2022.
  • The Gishanda Fish Farm project was officially launched just outside Akagera Park next to Lake Gishanda.
  • The security of the park’s wildlife and their habitats.
  • Newly recorded species and interesting sightings
  • Important biodiversity surveys
  • Ruzizi Tented Lodge and Akagera National Park have been recognized by TripAdvisor as  2022 Travelers’ Choice award winners.
Read the full highlights below across all Akagera’s key five pillars which are Law Enforcement, Biodiversity Conservation, Community Engagement, Tourism and Enterprise, and Management and Infrastructure development.
Biodiversity Conservation
  • Amphibian and reptile workshop in collaboration with the University of Koblenz. A new frog species for Akagera and Rwanda, Ptychadena taenioscelis, the southern dwarf ridged frog was found during the amphibian and reptile workshop. Reptiles recorded during the workshop were highlighted by white-lipped herald snake and olive marsh snake. The Kivu reed frog and common reed frog were also seen during the workshop.
  • Lion and Elephant collaring, and rhino darting. The Conservation and Research Department team deployed new tracking devices for lions, elephants, black rhinos, and white rhinos in Akagera National Park. The operation was a great success, seeing a total of eleven lions, seven white rhinos, eight black rhinos, and two elephants successfully darted. Lions and elephants were fitted with GPS/VHF collars, while in-horn VHF transmitters were deployed within the rhino horns.
  • Giraffe monitoring. In collaboration with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the Akagera Conservation and Research Department undertook a survey of the park’s giraffe population and develop a monitoring program for them using pattern recognition software and cutting-edge spatial explicit capture-recapture analysis. During this survey, 80 unique giraffes were identified and photographed to create a database of individuals. Following the capture-recapture analysis, the total population estimate is over 100 individuals. This number will be compared to the planned aerial census in 2023.
  • Butterfly monitoring. The Conservation and Research Department has updated the park’s butterfly database to 164 species, belonging to 75 genera. Nyamphalidae has been the dominant family observed, with 68 species recorded. The monthly surveys are carried out monthly at six permanent sites across the park at Birengero, Mihindi, Mutumba, Nyungwe, Ruzizi, and park headquarters. Monitoring will continue monthly going forward.
  • Snakes from the community. In collaboration with the park and the local community, a number of puff adders were rewilded back into the park from the nearby community in 2022. Snakes are generally feared and misunderstood. Akagera’s Community Department has been working to change this through education and awareness about the diversity of snakes around the park and their benefits to people. Community members now alert the park to potentially dangerous snakes found in homes, farms, and building sites. Management is able to respond and move the snakes away from people and into the park.
  • Citizen science transects.  The citizen science survey in 2022 was conducted in early November. 40 park rangers were joined by Akagera and Nyungwe National Parks’ staff and friends of Akagera park who were distributed into 20 teams of four. In total, the teams observed and counted 2,745 animals. Notable sightings were six klipspringers, three black rhinos, nine white rhinos, three lions, and two white-headed vultures (two of the estimated 8-10 in all of Rwanda). 31 eland and 13 roan antelope were also seen. This citizen-science foot survey allows access to areas of the park that cannot be reached by vehicles to count as many individual animals as possible and helps management to develop a better idea of where in the park key species are occupying.
  • Waterbird survey. In partnership with the University of Rwanda CoEB, and Birding and Educational Tours Rwanda, the Akagera Conservation and Research Department, joined by a team of community freelance guides and other park staff conducted a waterbird survey across five sites on Lake Ihema. The team identified 37 species of waterbirds, and 1,386 individuals were recorded. The African Darter and Great Cormorant are the most numerous species recorded with 475 and 262 individuals counted, respectively. Nyirabiyoro Island had nearly double the number of birds counted across other zones combined. In addition, Black Egrets were among the most notable birds sighted given their general rarity in the park. We would like to thank the Rubicon and Natagora Societies, and African Bird Club for funding the survey.
New frog species for Akagera and Rwanda, Ptychadena taenioscelis, the southern dwarf ridged frog. Photo credit: Drew Bantlin
Park Management & Infrastructure Development

  • Trip to Malawi. The Park Managers and Field Operations Managers from Akagera and Nyungwe took a trip to the three Malawi parks, as part of AP’s cross-pollination program. Akagera’s Logistics and Procurement Officer then spent a month in Malawi, learning the procurement and operations systems, and sharing the best lessons from Akagera. Fiston Ishimwe, Akagera’s Community Manager paid a one-month learning visit to Malawi’s AP Parks to learn and exchange ideas with the teams about different techniques and approaches
  • Ian Munyankindi, Akagera’s Tourism and Hospitality Manager attended the African Parks annual meeting that took place in Matusadona in Zimbabwe to represent Akagera in the African Parks annual Park Managers meeting discussing the future of the organization.
  • Rurama House Boat Launch. Rurama House on Rurama Peninsular is an old building, originally an old stone house in the park. This year the building was renovated and upgraded, and a new jetty was installed to create a new boat launch for boat rides on Lake Ihema, replacing the one at Pecherie.
  • Community library. Construction of the new Community Library was completed and 1000 books from BookAid international were received. The library is due to open in early 2023.
  • Following the decision to keep Karenge bush camp location permanent on the ridge overlooking Kilala plain. A permanent staff quarter was constructed in November.
  • Akagera NP hosted delegations from Zambia, Sud-Soudan, Ghana, Mali, and Chad in learning trips on the African Parks Public Private Partnership model.
The community library is due to open in early 2023. Photo credit: Fiston Ishimwe.
Community Development
  • In 2022, the visits of community students and local grassroots leaders to the park continued. 218 local leaders were facilitated to visit the park ad the park’s community centre, while 1317 and 209 teachers from 55 schools visited.
  • The Akagera community team held 55 pre-recorded and some live radio broadcasts in 2022 at two local radio stations. Topics included wildlife ecology, tourism, security, human-wildlife conflicts, and co-existing with wildlife. Live sessions encouraged engagement offering the opportunity for people to call in with questions. In addition to that, 169 local village meetings were attended by our community liaison team. In total 9,307 local community members attended in the meetings and discussed mainly Human-Wildlife Conflicts, Revenue sharing, anti-poaching awareness and park activities among others.
  • The environmental film show was screened at 20 sites in the local community with 17,060 spectators. A movie entitled wetland and climate change was used this year. which is a movie edited by the community team and translated into Kinyarwanda. After the movie, discussions are held with the audience.
  • Beekeeping and Fisheries. Over 12 tons of honey were harvested by the beekeepers operating near the park’s buffer zone in 2022. The beekeeping union of 399 members earned over $62,000 in 2022. The fishery cooperatives harvested over 114 tons of fish and earned a revenue of over USD $107,000. Over 23 tons of fish were supplied to community members at an affordable price in a bid to team up with the local administration to fight malnutrition.
  • In 2022 Akagera tree nursery produced 35,000 trees of which 30,000 were indigenous tree species while the remaining are fruit species. Close to 50% of the indigenous trees were donated to the Kayonza district and were planted in joint umuganda at different locations of the town and its other surrounding areas.
  • Direct community benefits. A sum of US $637,000- a 145% increase on last year was spent in the community on various Park activities including, casual labourers for activities inside the park, purchase of local materials and food, or hiring of equipment and community freelance guide income.
  • 24 projects worth US $564,000 were selected as part of the 2023 Revenue sharing Scheme program, 48% of which was allocated to community income-generating projects. The Revenue Sharing Scheme is a national program, where all national parks in  Rwanda share 10% of their tourism revenue to be distributed among communities surrounding the park.
  • Poultry farming: 2022 ended with 500 chicks growing well at the community centre, expecting the first eggs in June 2023.
  • Rhino Velo race. The annual Akagera Velo Race was held on 23 August after a two-year hiatus due to Covid. 144 participants took part in the 30km race, with more than 6000 spectators attending. The race was followed by the official launching of several Revenue Sharing Scheme (RSS) projects from 2021/2022, as well as handing over symbolic cheques worth over US$500,000 to local governments for the 2022/2023 RSS projects. Akagera contributes 10% of annual revenue towards RSS, a scheme implemented and managed by the Government of Rwanda. Our community team is closely involved in the selection and monitoring of support of RSS projects. All the events of the day were conducted in conjunction with the Rwanda Development Board.
  • Eco clubs in schools. In collaboration with local community schools, eight eco club events were organized last year.  The lively events included conservation walks, poems, theatre, story-telling, songs, and games by the students to convey conservation messages to the 9,745 people both adults/parents and children who attended the events. The eco clubs are one of the outcomes teacher training which was organised by the park.
12 tons of honey and 114 tons of fish were harvested by community cooperatives in 2022.

Tourism and Enterprise
  • Tourism numbers. In 2022 Akagera had several months as the best-performing months in the history of Akagera since African Parks took over management in 2010, and this has led to the best-performing year overall, with total revenue of US$3.75M – far exceeding projections for the year by 132%. The Average spend per person was $107, which again exceeded targets. Akagera Also received 34,500 paying visitors of whom 43% are Rwanda Nationals showing that the park enjoys excellent support from the country.
  • Ruzizi Tented Lodge and Akagera National Park have been recognized by TripAdvisor as 2022 Travelers’ Choice award winners in the destination and hotel categories respectively. The award celebrates businesses that have received great traveller reviews from our guests around the globe on TripAdvisor over the last 12 months. We aim to consistently deliver positive experiences to our visitors in 2023.
  • New community guides. With the resurgence of tourism, new community guides were needed to meet demand, so 12 new trainee guides were selected after an interview and test process, and immediately hit the ground running with busy weekends in particular when Rwandan citizens most often visit the park.
  • Karenge Bush Camp has occupied a superb location with a sweeping view over Kilala Plains for the past four years and a half. In 2022, the night drives were offered as an activity from Karenge, which has been popular, and while the white rhinos were in their extended bomas until July, guests were offered the chance to accompany trackers on their monitoring walks. It has been decided that Karenge will remain open in November going forward, closing only in April for an annual month of maintenance.
  • Pan-African rate. We are pleased to announce that effective from January 2023, a Pan-African rate has been introduced to our price list. All African citizens will pay US$50 per person per night/day.  The rest of the rates remain unchanged. Click HERE to check Akagera’s full pricelist and other booking information.
  • Hot air balloon. 2022 saw the official launch of Rwanda’s first Hot Air Balloon experience, in Akagera National Park by Royal Balloon Rwanda. Hot Air Ballooning is a great addition to the park’s various activities, offering views of the Akagera’s landscapes and wildlife from the sky. The ballooning experience happens in the southern part of the park and starts in the morning with magnificent views of the sunrise over the park. The flight lasts for up to an hour and kicks off around 5.15 am depending on the sunrise time. For enquiries, contact Royal Balloon Rwanda at info@royalballoonrw.com or visit their website.
Karenge will remain open in November going forward, closing only in April for an annual month of maintenance. The hot air balloon was launched by Royal Balloon Rwanda. 
Law Enforcement
  • Security situation. In 2022, 7,061 law enforcement patrols (22,656 man-days) were conducted to deter illegal activity in the park including the setting of snares. Only 48 snares were recovered throughout the year; however, 44 of those were recovered in one operation in a remote wetlands area of the park. 25 poachers were arrested. The park’s fauna and habitats continue to be secure.
  • 30 new Rangers joined the Akagera Law enforcement team. An intensive eight-week training programme in Akagera, jointly organised by the park management and the Rwanda Development Board, saw 126 new rangers passing out. 30 of the new rangers are now working in Akagera. We are pleased to have five female rangers among the 30 new rangers who joined us.
  • Coach Ranger Life Saver training. 12 rangers from all four Rwanda National Parks have completed the Coach Ranger Life Saver training in Akagera National Park. The training focused on providing rangers with the necessary competencies in Field Trauma Care and Practical Instruction. All 12 graduates are now qualified coaches in Ranger life-saver skills and are helping to pass on the skills to the rest of the Ranger teams in Rwanda.
  • Wildlife Ranger Challenge. 40 Akagera rangers and staff participated in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge that took place in Nyungwe National Park in mid-September 2022. The goal of the annual Wildlife Ranger Challenge (21km half marathon) is to build camaraderie between rangers from all Rwanda parks and to raise awareness for supporting the work of wildlife rangers across Africa’s protected areas.
  • World Ranger Day 2022. International Rangers Day on 31 July was celebrated in Akagera by non-law enforcement staff joining rangers on a morning patrol to “walk in their boots”, followed by a festive lunch during which the rangers shared their stories of working in the bush. The Park Manager commended the efforts of the rangers which is one of the main things that is helping to keep Akagera’s conservation integrity.
30 new Rangers joined the Akagera Law enforcement team in October 2022.


Interesting sighting in 2022.

  • A Ruppell’s vulture was sighted at Mutumba. This is the second sighting in two years after no sightings since 2008.
  • A herd of nearly 50 elands was sighted near Kilimbali. The herd included nine young calves. Another herd of eland has been seen consistently around Mohana Plain, also with many young calves.
  • Bushpigs have been seen multiple times in the swamps around Kilala, Gishami, and Nyungwe Gate.
  • Serval cat sightings have been increasing across the park, especially in Kilala Plain. Servals have become a common sight hunting around Kilala during night drives, and pairs of cats have been observed regularly. Sightings were also made near Valley Dam and Rwisirabo, and many photos of servals have been recorded by the Conservation and Research team’s camera traps.
  • The African pitta was sighted in June. They migrate through Rwanda, between southeastern Africa and the Congo Basin. Despite their bright colours, they can be difficult to spot as they prefer forested or dense habitats, and can sit motionless for long stretches of time.
Akagera was in the news.  
We thank You for your support in 2022

Please share this good news and we look forward to keeping you updated on Akagera News in 2023. You can keep in touch with us through our social media channels; Facebook Friends of Akagera National Park and @AkageraPark on Twitter and akagera.park Instagram

Your comments are welcome and will receive a response in due course.

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